Remembering members of the Williston Northampton community

P. Douglas Watkins ’70

Paul Douglas Watkins, 70, of Marmora, NJ was taken from his loved ones unexpectedly on 4/21/2021. Doug was a loving and supportive husband to his soulmate and late wife, Suzanne, of 45 years. Doug was born in Coatesville, PA, grew up in Centerport, NY and graduated from The Williston Northampton School in MA. Doug was a proud Bucknell University alum as well as having many degrees from many other universities. He is dedicated to, and survived by, his two children Doug and Christine. His true meaning in life, however, was to be a grandfather. He was survived by four grandchildren: Breanna, Leah, Patrick and Carley, who he loved with his entire heart. He is survived by his sister, Lynn and preceded by his parents Paul and Nancy. Doug worked as a paramedic, firefighter, lifeguard, engineer, and just recently started as a substitute teacher. He believed in saving many lives before his own, a true hero. Doug had a big heart with a love language that consisted of giving everything he could to those he loved. He loved his days tanning on the OCNJ beach, taking his boat out, lifeguarding on Surf Road, and spending his time on many different tropical islands where he truly belonged. Living by the shore was his true calling, and it is where he met his very special loved one, Roisin Keough. His love for the beach and the ocean will comfort his loved ones, where we know he will be spending the rest of his eternity. His legacy will live on with all of his family and friends, whom he loved dearly. A memorial will be scheduled for a later date. Donations in his name can be made to the American Cancer Association, which are truly appreciated.

Rex Aubrey ’53

February 4, 1935 – April 20, 2021
Detroit, Michigan

Rex was born in Parkes, Australia in February 1935. During his childhood he excelled as a multisport athlete winning 3 first & 1 second place medals in the Eastern Track & Field championships, 2 first places in the Swimming championships as well as 2 Gold medals in the Australian National High School Swimming Championships. He also won 22 New South Wales State Championship medals as well as numerous other awards. Rex moved to the United States at the age of 16 and attended Williston Academy prep school in Easthampton, MA and then Yale University as a Political Science major. While at Yale Rex became a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and a member of the Book and Snake Society. Here Rex continued his excellence in swimming setting multiple AAU & NCAA records earning a spot on the 1952 Olympic team participating in 2 events and taking 6th place in the 100-yard freestyle. In 1954 he participated in the British Commonwealth Games where he won a Gold and a Bronze medal and in 1956 set a world record in the 100-yard freestyle. Rex was admitted into the Parkes Roll of Excellence and also had a street named after him, Rex Aubrey Place. He was recently admitted to the Williston Academy Athletic Hall of Fame. While working at the DAC he won multiple National titles as a Squash player, hobbies included tennis, scuba diving, and golf where he had 3 holes in one! Rex is survived by his wife, 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren. Due to the current situation with Covid the family has decided not to hold any type of memorial.

Elria Giamatti Ewing ’58

Elena Maria Giamatti Ewing died at home with family in Portsmouth, NH, on April 15, 2021, of complications from dementia. She was born in Boston on June 14, 1940, to Valentine Giamatti, son of Italian immigrants, and Mary Walton, daughter of the Yankee establishment. Her two-year-old brother promptly and permanently re-christened her Elria. She grew up an American original, with a personality as unique as her name, vibrant, independent, and strong-willed.
Elria was raised in South Hadley, Mass., where her father was on the faculty of Mount Holyoke College. When the family moved to postwar Rome for her father’s sabbatical year, her uninhibited personality was found disruptive in first grade at the Swiss-German School. So she stayed home and learned Italian from maids and neighbors, including Mussolini’s daughter, Edda, then recently released from prison. She also met Pope Pius XII when the family received a private audience. Italian became her fluent second language then and during her father’s later sabbatical in Rome, and her college junior year in Florence.
Her skirmishes with organized education continued through South Hadley public schools, the American Overseas School of Rome, the Northampton School for Girls in Northampton, MA, Wells College in Aurora, NY, and the School of General Studies at Columbia University, where she earned a BS degree in Romance languages in 1963.
She was a natural athlete, good at horseback riding, tennis, and skiing.
Elria got to know David Ewing over many summers at camp in New Hampshire. They were married in 1963. Their first year of married life was in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where both taught secondary school. Their first son was born there by unplanned caesarian section in a rural Catholic mission hospital. The young family grew by three in the next four years after they returned to the States.
Elria repeatedly created secure and nurturing homes for the family as David’s work took them to four countries of Asia and Europe, as well as Virginia, Washington, D.C., and New York City. She was ever a formidable advocate for them with the inevitable bureaucracies of life and education, bruising a few egos in the process.
Fortunately, she had a restless nature; she counted 19 moves in her life. When she wasn’t moving, she was traveling. Her children remember, not always fondly, a rail tour of Europe when they were ages 10 to 14 under the Spartan guidance of Europe on $10 a Day. She avoided flying but counted 25 ocean sailings starting in 1947, including two Pacific crossings. She and David took the Queen Mary II to Europe in its inaugural year and five roundtrips thereafter.
Elria also counted at least 15 jobs, including stints in local newspaper advertising and real estate. She was a natural teacher. She taught English to Japanese schoolgirls and to adult groups including the Taipei City Council and Japanese housewives. She coordinated a program to find summer jobs for American teens in Tokyo. She related particularly well to young people, and is fondly remembered by alumni of the American School in Japan, where she worked in the library, and American University in Washington, D.C, where she was an academic counselor.
Retirement years took the couple to East Dover, Vermont, where she raised llamas and opened an antique shop, and finally to Portsmouth, where they have lived for 19 years. She liked New York City, Lord &Taylor and Italian opera. She joined choral singing groups in Vermont and New Hampshire.
Wherever she went, Elria made friends and was known for her cooking and entertaining, with an international accent. She was active in community organizations, often making sure people were well fed. In Portsmouth she organized the first lobster bake and the first holiday caroling for the South End neighborhood association, both of which became annual events. She was a member of the Academy of Senior Professionals at Eckerd College (Fla.) and the New Hampshire chapter of The Colonial Dames of America at Portsmouth’s Moffatt-Ladd House.
Elria’s family is deeply grateful to the exceptional caregivers who made it possible for her to remain at home in comfort during her last years.
She is survived by her husband; son Jeffrey Ewing and wife Daphne of Conshohocken, Pa.; son Dino Ewing and wife Janine of Eastchester, N.Y.; daughter Valentina Leonard and husband Edward of Acton, Mass.; son Nathaniel Ewing and wife Emily of Nottingham, N.H.; ten grandchildren; one great-granddaughter; and a brother Dino Giamatti and wife Barbara of Scarborough, Maine. She was predeceased by her parents and an older brother, A. Bartlett Giamatti.
She will be remembered at private observances. Memorial contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association are suggested.

Donald M. Barnard ’58

Donald M. Barnard, 81, of East Hartford, CT, beloved husband of the late Joanne (Rogers) Barnard passed away on Thursday, April 1, 2021 at St. Francis Hospital, Hartford. He was born on May 31, 1939 in Hartford, son of the late Leon and Mary (Miller) Barnard. Don grew up in Bloomfield, attended Bloomfield High, graduated from Williston Academy in 1958, served in the US Army from 1962 to 1965 stationed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, graduated cum laude with an Associates Degree in Engineering from Ward Tech (UHART), attending classes while working for Pratt & Whitney full time. Don lived in East Hartford, working at Pratt both before the army and from 1965 to 1999, biking to work as a young father. When not at work, he could often be found attending to the yard, listening to music, working on the house or enjoying the shade of a pine tree in the side yard. Although Don retired from Pratt in 1999, he continued as a consultant for another 2 years. Don tested aircraft engines and aircraft engine parts and, in the process, forged close friendships lasting a lifetime. Don played the piano by ear, having had a few years of lessons as a young boy, continuing to enjoy playing for his own pleasure throughout his life, and for family and friends, such as at Worcester Poly Tech as a TEKE (Tau Kappa Epsilon, Zeta-Mu Chapter, circa 1959). For over 40 years, Don and his family spent their vacations tent camping at Acadia National Park in Maine, where he enjoyed hiking, canoeing, stargazing, cooking and eating meals by the campfire. Don and his wife Joanne continued to tent camp in Acadia for years after their children had grown, often with close friends Doug and Karen or Bob and Ellen. Don and Joanne shared their lives and many interests including nature, photography, cooking and beautifying and maintaining their yard and gardens and home, and did so together for 47 years until her passing in 2009. In his later years from his home in East Hartford, Don continued to study and appreciate the stars and planets through his telescope and music through his Hi-Fi stereo system; and the natural world, UCONN girl’s basketball and golf through television and his many maps. Don kept a journal, kept track of dates and took precise measurements at work and in the kitchen. After Joanne’s passing, Don would keep in close contact with old friends and family through many phone conversations. Don was always deeply dedicated to his family and leaves behind his son, Donald M. Barnard Jr. and his wife, Brenda of Colchester, his daughter, Christine Neal and her husband, Timothy of Harwinton. He leaves behind his sister, Barbara Douglas and her husband, Craig and three grandchildren, Andrew, Justin and Daniel Neal. He is predeceased by his brother, Leon “Peter” Barnard and leaves many nieces, nephews and cousins. His family will receive friends and family Saturday, May 15, 2021 from 2-3 PM followed by funeral services at 3:00 PM at Carmon Funeral Home, 807 Bloomfield Ave., Windsor. Flowers and sharing of memories are appreciated. Tribute donations may be made in Don’s (and Joanne’s) memory to Friends of Acadia at https://friendsofacadia.org/tribute-gift/ or by calling 207-288-3340.

Joan Thanhouser Sherman ’47

Joan Sherman enriched the life of Mount Washington Valley through her co-ownership of radio station WMWV and her dedication to numerous arts and culture associations. She died from complications of Alzheimer’s Disease on Nov. 19, 2020, at Merriman House in North Conway. Joanie often said that she was drawn to New Hampshire after seeing the movie, The Devil and Daniel Webster, when she was a little girl. For her, it was a dream come true to move here. Joanie loved New Hampshire’s small towns, tight-knit communities, and rural roots. Living here both nurtured and inspired her. Born on Sept. 7, 1929, in New York City, Joanie grew up in Great Neck, Long Island, and attended Northampton School for Girls in Massachusetts. After graduating, she studied at Juilliard School of Music, Barnard College, and the Peabody Music School. In 1948, she married Lawrence (Skip) Sherman. After Skip got his journalism degree at the University of Iowa in 1955, they moved their family to New England. He worked as a reporter for The Springfield Union and The Providence Journal. Meanwhile, Joanie began a career in sales, which led to her learning the radio business at WERI in Westerly, R.I. In 1959, they moved to Conway to manage the AM radio station WBNC, which had been purchased by Joanie’s boss at WERI. A year later, they bought the station, and in 1968 they started a sister FM station, WMWV. As sales manager, Joanie immediately slashed the price of advertising, enabling any business, however big or small, to broadcast its message. She also founded the station’s long-running annual gardening contest for amateur and professional gardeners. Skip managed the news as well as the music programming, which soon displayed his signature touch: a spicy mix of jazz, country, rock and roll, and classical music. Meanwhile, the station’s doors opened to the community. Its reporters and announcers were everywhere: dog sled races, high school concerts, tennis tournaments, the Fryeburg Fair, you name it. Radio interviews introduced listeners to local historians, naturalists, musicians, and authors, and the morning weather report gave everyone a head start by rating the day up to fifty cents. “It’s a real fifty-center” became insider slang for another beautiful day in Mount Washington Valley. In 1997, Joanie and Skip sold the station and retired. Amicably divorced in 2002, they remained close friends. As a woman in broadcasting, Joanie broke new ground. One of the first women in sales, management, and ownership, she served on the board of the New Hampshire Association of Broadcasters and, in 1965, was the first woman to address the Radio Advertising Bureau in New York City. Moreover, the legacy of the station she and Skip created has endured. In addition to her work in sales and broadcasting, crafts and fine art were always central to Joanie’s life. She won awards and recognition for her embroidery and for her hooked rugs and also taught crafts to community groups. In the 1990s, she studied at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Georgia and at the Portland School of Art in Maine, and she took workshops in creative writing. The result was an autobiographical series of paintings and short essays. In 1992, the collection, “Dreams & Memories: Paintings and Stories,” was exhibited at the Idia Center in Intervale, N.H. Selections were featured in other exhibitions, notably the New Hampshire Historical Society’s folk art exhibition, “Traditional Roots, Contemporary Expressions,” in 1994, and subsequently at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. The entire collection was published in 1994. An indefatigable extrovert, Joanie was devoted to her community. (As a kid, when she realized that she couldn’t meet everyone in the whole world, she burst into tears.) She served on many arts organizations including Conway’s Home Industries, the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, the Mount Washington Valley Arts Association, and Arts Jubilee. She also helped to establish Planned Parenthood in New Hampshire and worked to bring community mental health services to Carroll County. In later life, she became a member and enthusiastic supporter of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Eastern Slopes. In 2000, Joanie and Skip were the recipients of the prestigious Bob Morrell Award, bestowed by the Mount Washington Valley Economic Council for civic entrepreneurship. Joanie faced many challenges in her life. She had dyslexia and suffered from bipolar disorder with recurring depressions. However, she always described herself as a fighter and believed that we could all make the world a better place for each other. As it is for many who struggle, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” was her personal anthem. Happily, in recent years she was able to sing that song a lot with friends and family. In addition to her former husband Skip Sherman, Joanie is survived by their two daughters, Sarah Sherman, married to Jamie Calderwood; and Carrie Sherman, married to Terry Whiting. Other survivors include Joanie’s grandson, Peter Calderwood; her sister, Gretchen Horton; and her brother, Ned Thanhouser. Joanie’s family would like to express their gratitude to Merriman House at Memorial Hospital in North Conway, where Joanie spent her last three and a half years. A celebration of Joanie’s life will be held when it’s safe for friends and family to gather.

Robert W. Searles ’38

Robert Wallace Searles passed away on Monday morning, April 26, 2021 surrounded by his family. He was one hundred and one years old. Born September 4, 1919, he grew up in Pomfret, Connecticut and resided in Brooklyn, Connecticut for most of his life. Mr. Searles was a graduate of Williston Academy, class of ’38 and received a BS degree in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytech Institute in 1942. He served in the U.S. Navy as a Lieutenant J.G. during WWII and he was a serving member of the Mystic Flotilla Coast Guard Auxiliary for over 55 years. Active as a patrol coxswain early on, Bob was also an instructor, teaching boating safety classes for many years. He was honored in 2019 by the Auxiliary District Commodore celebrating his many years of service. He founded and operated Searles Ready Mix Concrete in Wauregan, Connecticut until retiring in 1983. Bob was an avid boater and boat builder. He spent every summer cruising Long Island Sound with Audrey, his wife of 56 years. Bob was predeceased by Audrey in 2007. He leaves a son, John Searles with wife Lynne and grandson Jonathan; daughter Janet Gill with husband Jeremiah; and daughter Judith Baker with husband Ralph, grandson Robert Baker, granddaughter Megina Baker with husband Johannes Mark, and great grandchildren Tova and Carl Mark. He lived a very long and active life. In lieu of flowers, donations in Bob’s memory may be made to The Coast Guard Foundation at coastguardfoundation.org. A private memorial service for family members will be held at a later date.

Brewster H. Staples ’59

Brewster Holman Staples, 81 of Pownal, ME passed away at his home on December 23, 2020 with his wife by his side.

He was born in Malden, MA, April 29, 1939 to Dr. Clark and Frances (Hall) Staples. After graduation from Williston Academy, he proudly served in the U.S. Navy from 1958-1964. He was a medical technologist during his years of study at Bryant and Stratton and Suffolk University in Boston. Brewster worked in the insurance and financial service industries; earning the LUTCF designation in 1988. He retired from Metropolitan Insurance Company and belonged to the Southern Maine Association of Life Underwriters; serving as its president and winning four National awards.

Bruce enjoyed his years of boating, camping, traveling to Nova Scotia and Key West many times with his loving wife of 51 years. He was an avid fisherman and looked forward each year to his week at Moosehead Lake in Rockwood. He was most happy at his home on the farm, always working the land and enjoying nature; talking with all who stopped by.

Brewster was a long-time member of South Freeport Church UCC, member of the Acacia Lodge #21 AF & AM in Durham, ME, Grand Organist of the State of Maine for many years and also a member of the AMVETS Post 2 in Yarmouth, ME.

Throughout his life, Brewster was recognized for his volunteer service to youth, including handicap children at the YMCA in Woburn, MA; raising rabbits for 4H in Massachusetts and Cumberland associations. Whether working seasonally at LL Bean for 15 years or participating in community activities, Brewster was respected and highly thought of by all who knew him.

He was predeceased by his parents and brothers, David and Clarke Staples. His is survived by his beloved wife and soulmate, Judith (Hayes) Staples; daughters, Deborah Staples Ferrara and husband Jim of Rangeley, Jennifer Staples LeClair and husband Robert of Key West; son Jay (John B.) Staples and wife Bonnie of Topsham; his dear sister, Anne Staples Dixon of Essex, CT and many loving grandchildren and special nieces and nephews. He is also survived by daughters, Tracie Staples Thomas and husband Dan and Kendall Staples and their families in Virginia.

A small graveside memorial will be held in June in Pownal, ME.

Sally Hitchcock Pullman ’37

Sally Hitchcock Pullman passed away peacefully of natural causes on August 5, 2020 in Lafayette Hill, PA. She was 101 years old, born on April 20, 1919 in Bristol, CT to the late Arthur Cornwall and Ruth Harriet (Thayer) Hitchcock.

Mrs. Pullman lived a wonderfully long and storied life, including her service during WWll as a US Army Nurse in the south Pacific, achieving her Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, teaching nursing for a number of years and being the wife to John S. Pullman, Jr., and the mother of their three children.

Sally married John on May 22, 1948 in Brattleboro, Vermont. Their first child John H. was born in 1952. They moved to Wyoming in 1953 where her two younger children Sally and David were born. In 1955 they returned to Connecticut where husband John received his Masters in Public Health from Yale University leading to an job with the Connecticut State Health Department. The family moved to Granby, Connecticut in 1959. The house at 10 Wells Road was her beloved home for close to 60 years until she took up residence in the Sunrise assisted living facility in Lafayette, PA.

Early on she taught pottery classes to 4Hers, ran a Brownie troop, canned and froze the bounty of her and John’s gardens, she enjoyed her horses, geology and all things having to do with earth sciences, healthcare, teaching, knitting, drawing, telling stories, and mowing her lawn at top speed on her tractor. She was an avid reader and got particular enjoyment from history books. She wrote and published a book “Letters Home” now for sale on Amazon about her experiences caring for the wounded in the hospital tents on New Guinea after the return of McArthur. After their retirement John and Sally traveled extensively making new friends from around the world.

She is survived by her daughter, Sally Pullman-Mooar, son-in-law Pekka Antero Mooar; sons: John H. Pullman, daughter-in-law Laura Elise McGhee Pullman, and David L. Pullman; grandchildren Lakin Caldwell Pullman, Jaime Marie Pullman Beaulieu, Ethan Pullman Mooar, Rebecca Hitchcock Mooar Kelleher, Sarah Kasanen Mooar and Dana McGhee Malone-White and six great-grandchildren: Sally, Netta, Lakin, David, Shea, and Ragnar, plus many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

In addition to her parents, she is preceded in death by her husband of 47 years, John S. Pullman, Jr. who passed away in 1995, and brother, John Thayer Hitchcock.

Due to the distance and the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual services will be announced at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mrs. Pullman’s honor to: Yale School of Nursing, (nursing.yale.org) First Congregational Church, (firstchurchgranby.org) Vermont Land Trust, (vlt.org).

Bruce Nicholson VanLeer ’41

Bruce VanLeer, a longtime resident of Warwick, NY, passed peacefully away on May 2, 2020 at Park Manor Rehabilitation Center, Middletown. She was 96 years old.
Born in Hingham, MA, she was the daughter of the late Grace (Catton) and Roger Nicholson.
Bruce was a Licensed Practical Nurse with the Visiting Nurse Services of Long Island, NY.
Bruce was an avid birdwatcher and gardener. She also enjoyed art.
Married to the late William VanLeer, she is survived by her daughters, Sally Woglom and her husband, Thom of Warwick, NY, Anne Ekberg of Holden, MA, and Allison Millstein and her husband, Jeffrey of Milford, PA; six grandchildren: David Woglom, Abigail Meigh, Bonnie Woglom, Kate Laramee, Anna Millstein and Katherine Everson; and five great-grandchildren. She was also predeceased by son-in-law, William Ekberg.
The family would like to thank all of those who cared for Bruce at Park Manor during her final days.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Warwick Community Ambulance Service Inc., P.O. Box 315, Warwick, NY.
Private arrangements have been made by Lazear-Smith & Vander Plaat Memorial Home, 17 Oakland Avenue, Warwick, NY.

Richard T. Potsubay ’59

Richard T. Potsubay, age 79, of Clearwater, Florida passed away on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. Richard was born July 4, 1941 in Brooklyn, New York to Samuel F. Potsubay and Virginia Taylor. Richard lived a devoted life to his career and family. He enjoyed reading, writing, and traveling. There will be a graveside service at 2:00 pm, Saturday, March 6, 2021 at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park.

Remembering members of the Williston Northampton community